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Gran Piedra: A Lookout in Eastern Cuba

The eastern region of the largest Antillean Island, favored by nature with breathtakingly beautiful beaches, a perfectly preserved environment and huge historic and cultural values, boasts places that give the region a peculiar touch.

That region, which holds Cuba's highest mountains, has a rich history, complemented by unique natural highlights such as the Gran Piedra Mountain Range.

The area was named after one of the most outstanding geological values of Santiago de Cuba province, a huge rock of volcanic origin, which is 51 meters (167 feet) long, 25 meters (82 feet) high and 30 meters (98 feet) wide, and weights over 63,000 tons.

Precisely, that rock is highest point of the mountain range at 1,225 meters (4,019 feet) above sea level and is one of the attractions at the Sierra Maestra Grand National Park.

The rock is famous not only in Cuba but in the insular Caribbean region, since it is the biggest rock of its kind in the area.

There are many stories about the rock's origin, including one that attributes its formation to a meteorite that hit the Earth millions of years ago, although the most veridical version is the one that says that the rock was originated by an explosion of an underwater volcano.

View of Gran Piedra
Façade of Gran Piedra Hotel
Cabana at Gran Piedra Hotel

Visitors have access to Gran Piedra through 452 steps, where they enjoy adventure amid exuberant vegetation of ferns, orchids and other species growing in the region.

Several hundreds of plant species, including 222 kinds of ferns, and 22 percent of endemic plants, complement the region's offer for adventure tourism, in addition to 926 animal species, including the tocororo (Cuban trogon - Priotelus temnurus), Cuba's national bird.

The rock is also a natural lookout from where those who embarked in the adventure of climbing it can see one of the most beautiful landscapes in the region.

From there, visitors can enjoy the breathtaking view of the southeastern coast, where they can see the hotels and beaches in Baconao Park, and the buildings in the city of Santiago de Cuba.

According to research, the Gran Piedra Mountain Range was the main settlement of French immigrants in the 19th century, and holds the ruins of dozens of coffee farms.

The Horizontes Gran Piedra hotel, with 17 cabins and five bungalows, provides excellent accommodation for those who love nature and enjoy trekking, mountain climbing, bicycle tourism, and flora and fauna watching, among other options.

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